Cardinal George Pell © Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
He is fighting for his last legal chance. Now Australia's Supreme Court will rule on Cardinal George Pell and his jail sentence on sexual abuse charges. The date is set for next Tuesday.
Then it will be decided whether the conviction will stand or whether the 78-year-old will be released for lack of evidence, the court announced (Thursday) via Twitter.
Accusation of sexual abuse
The former head of finance of the Vatican is accused of having sexually abused two choirboys in the sacristy of the cathedral when he was archbishop of Melbourne at the end of 1996. Pell's guilty verdict by a jury in December 2018 and sentence of six years in prison in March 2019 was based solely on the in camera testimony of one of the alleged victims.
The second man had died of a drug overdose shortly before the trial began. An appeals court upheld the ruling in August 2019 by a majority of two of the three judges.
At the hearing of the appeal against the conviction in March 2019, Pell's lawyers had argued in the High Court that the evidence was not sufficient for a guilty verdict "beyond reasonable doubt". Prosecutors, on the other hand, argued that Pell's defense attorneys painted an "incomplete and inaccurate picture of the facts" and engaged in "whitewashing".
New abuse allegations emerge
Meanwhile, new abuse allegations have surfaced against Cardinal Pell. The ABC reported (Thursday) on a 53-year-old man, referred to as Bernie, who was sexually abused by Pell as a boy in a Ballarat orphanage. Pell was a young priest in the Ballarat diocese in the 1970s.
As early as June 2019, a man had also filed a civil lawsuit against the cardinal. In it, he is accused of covering up sexual abuse of students by a pedophile religious in the 1980s as head of the Ballarat diocese's school division.